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Effect of Poverty on a Child’s Opportunity for a Good Education: Analysis of The Other Wes Moore

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The world’s economic turbulences have vastly affected the lives of many people, perhaps to the tune of billions. Across generations, education has always been a priority due to its eventual benefits in life. In today’s world, described by the global competitive nature for survival, especially in the job market, education comes in handy in determining a person’s skillset and the prosperity of their future. Nevertheless, some children from the said poor families have been able to fight their way out of poverty and succeed in not only education, but also life in general. In the book “The Other Wes Moore” by Wes Moore talks about how two young boys struggle with poverty but at the end each boy results in a different outcome due to their decisions of facing the issue. Financial discrepancies in a child education consists of starting their education behind other children, low parenting skills, and not attending a good school.

Poverty not only affects a person’s livelihood, but also their prospective future achievements. In education for instance, children from poverty-stricken families have been greatly disadvantaged as compared to those from affluent families. The impact of poverty stretches from psychological resources, which affects a child’s education. While education is assumed to be a veritable human right, it remains to be elusive to many a people form poor backgrounds. Therefore, it is safe to say that, poverty affects a child’s chances to a good education.

Children from poverty-stricken families, often, start their education behind those from economically able families (Connell 124). In the United States for instance, inequality, between the rich and the poor, becomes apparent at 3 years of age. While most kids from the rich families are dropped off by nannies at some expensive preschools, their peers from poor families are not even in school yet. In most cases, the children from poor backgrounds, if lucky enough, get to attend preschool at the age of 5 years. For children who hail from poor families, in most cases, they are either orphaned or live with a single parent. These parents, research shows that, besides living in poverty, they are poorly educated and demonstrate low parenting skills. Most of their time, is usually spend at work, and thus, they have less time for their children. The main cause of delayed start is poverty, with the poor parents unable to afford school fees for the preparatory schools. In the reading “The Other Wes Moore” talks about how the other Wes Moore’s mother, Mary, attended Johns Hopkins University but had to drop out due to financial problems and return to work full-time as a medical assistant. This caused the other Wes Moore to not have a mother that doesn’t see their children as a priority which causes the child to grow up and face their life by themselves. The other Wes Moore grew up to have children at an early age, but he was facing this obstacle while being in poverty. This issue caused him to do bad choices to help support his family which was becoming a drug dealer. In cases where the parents have attained low education levels, education for the children is not a priority. They are more focused in surviving, by getting food and a roof on their head, which, compared to their financial ability, is overwhelming. Starting early in education does matter, with children who start preschool earlier, achieving higher in education, not only as children but also as adults.

In every nation, there are always different social class stratifications, with different amenities set aside by mere convention, for specific social classes, case in point, schools for the rich and those for the poor. In most cases, there are community schools for the poor as well as expensive schools for the rich. Depending on the school the children attend, it can highly determine their academic proficiency. The differences, in terms of resources, academic standards, set the pupils in the poor schools at a disadvantage, as compared to their peers in the good schools” (Haberman 85). The schools are marred with many problems, which present obstacles in the student’s learning process. In the book “The Other Wes Moore” shows how Wes Moore attends Johns Hopkins University with the help of his family that contributed with money to send him to military school and start his education there. The other Wes Moore did not attend a higher education due to his financial problems and involvement with drugs. He must support his family and had no time to attend school.

For the poor schools, the student to teacher ratio is quite high, which does not allow enough time for the students to interact with the teachers. The high student numbers make the classrooms crowded and the students must compete for the relatively less resources such as books, library spaces and even sitting places in the classrooms. The teachers also, are in most cases not qualified, which presents the students with otherwise inferior information and knowledge source. The high student numbers, present constrains to the available social amenities, which makes the students’ lives uncomfortable. In addition, the schools, in most cases are in unsafe neighborhoods, an environment that is not conducive for optimal learning.

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Poverty affects a child’s mental health, which greatly the child’s education, not only their ability to attend school but also their performance in school (Tilak 204). In poor families, the parents have little time for their children. Child neglect exposes the said children to otherwise undesirable lifestyles, which ultimately influences their education progress. Poverty has been for a long time been such an uncomfortable word and situation. Chronic stress is harmful to any person. The hard situations through which the poor families go through, generally take a toll on the student’s well-being. The stress transfers from the parents to the children.

In cases where the children do not have regular meals and they cannot afford the basic of social needs, they are then stressed to the core, which affects their life in entirety. Stress affects a child’s concentration ability, brain development and memory, which impairs the child’s academic reception and success, their social life, their self-esteem and eventually, affects their behaviors. These students, if no intervention from other people is offered to them, they end up turning into drugs for solace and crime as their source of livelihood. While the children from poor backgrounds go through all these transformational processes, their peers from the rich families can comfortably attain their academic goals, which offers a promise for a better future.

Growing up in chaotic families and neighbors can greatly influence a person’s growth (Moore 4). In cases where a child’s early life experiences are considerably chaotic, the child can grow into a mentally messed person, insecure and unsure of what they expect to achieve in life. In such chaotic families, the language used, as well as the admonishing, this negatively influences their personality by filling them with a lot of negative energy in everything. For such students, their relationship with others is quite impaired. They do not know how to hold a simple civil conversation with anyone else. The children also end up dropping out of school, and engaging in menial jobs, to try to supplement their parent’s income.

The children from poor families rarely receive healthy meals as well as medical attention. This leads to health complications, which can prove quite uncomfortable for the children. According to research, intelligence is somehow linked to health, which would then mean, poor health translates to a challenged intelligence quotient (Gray and Thompson, 471). This not only affects their mental health, but also their concentration due to physical distress.

On the contrary, poverty has been viewed as a motivating factor to many, with many successful people, showing how they overcame poverty to attain immense success and wealth. It has been for a long time argued that, poverty motivates children to work harder and live better lives in future, after all, necessity is the mother of invention. A plethora of success stories, the from rags to riches type have been told over the decades, to motivate the less advantaged into working hard for a better future. This however, does not dispel the fact that, children from lesser-privileged families are disadvantaged, considering the fact they must fight harder than their peers from rich families to get to their level.

Overall, poverty is a great impediment to a child’s education, and thus, rules and regulations should be put in place to provide them with an easier way. People should keep in mind that children are the future of this world. We should help all children receive an education that does not limit them to a certain knowledge due to their income.

Works Cited

  1. Connell, Raewyn. 'Poverty and education.' Harvard Educational Review 64.2 (1994): 125-150.
  2. Gray, Jeremy R., and Paul M. Thompson. 'Neurobiology of intelligence: science and ethics.'
  3. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 5.6 (2004): 471.
  4. Haberman, Martin. 'The pedagogy of poverty versus good teaching.' Phi Delta Kappa 92.2 (2010): 81-87.
  5. Moore, Wes. The other Wes Moore: One name, two fates. Random House Digital, Inc., 2011.
  6. Tilak, Jandhyala BG. 'Education and poverty.' Journal of Human Development 3.2 (2002): 191-207.
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Effect of Poverty on a Child’s Opportunity for a Good Education: Analysis of The Other Wes Moore. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from
“Effect of Poverty on a Child’s Opportunity for a Good Education: Analysis of The Other Wes Moore.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
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